Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Sisters of Versailles and Book Giveaway!

Author: Sally Christie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Paperback
Series: #1 in the Mistresses of Versailles series
Pages: 432
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: September 1, 2015 
First Line: "We were five sisters and four became mistresses of our King."

Book Description from GoodReadsA sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn GirlThe Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

My Review: I'm a big reader of historical fiction but I have only read a handful of books set in France.  After reading the blurb about this book I was intrigued.  Set during the opulent reign of King Louis XV this book details how the king took four of the five Nesle sisters as his mistresses over the years.  Ooo la la.  Tell me more!

I enjoyed learning more about these five women and King Louis XV who I really didn't know anything about.  King Louis XV came off as a pretty malleable king.  He was sheltered and used to sycophants surrounding him his entire life but the man also knew what he wanted in his private life.  He was called 'Louis the Well-Beloved' -- ain't that the truth!  The man took on the majority of the Nesle sisters as mistresses while continuing to have children with his Queen.

It was also interesting to learn more about the fate of some women in the court at that time.  It was a little mind boggling to read some of the social rules that had to be adhered to in order to be a mistress.  How people looked the other way for certain things but condemned the mistresses for other infractions.   The decadence of the French court as well as their opinions of the poor was also shocking.  So naive and ignorant ... no wonder there was a French Revolution.  

The story is told via the multiple points of views of the sisters who had very different and unique personalities.  Each sister had a very distinctive voice which made it easy to keep track of who was who and letters back and forth between the sisters helped to propel the story and give it a more personal feel.  The sisters were vibrant but their personalities felt one-dimensional with pious Hortense, naive Louise, schemer-extraordinaire Pauline, self-centred Marie-Anne and dense Diane.  

The book overall was quite well written and researched but I also found it to be slow in parts.  The Sisters of Versailles is filled with the social scene at court, bedroom antics and the very tumultuous relationships that the five sisters had with each other as well as their King.  Some readers will enjoy that the focus of the book isn't on the political aspects of the time but on the personal relationships of the characters.  Personally I would have liked a bit more history in this historical fiction so I could learn more about France's history.

Overall, this was a good read.  I enjoyed learning more about these five women who were all but forgotten in history.  People who enjoy a lighter historical fiction read with more focus on characters' relationships will enjoy this book.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to TLC Book Tours and Atria Books for providing me with a complimentary paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Enter my Book Giveaway!!
Atria Books has generously provided me one copy of this The Sisters of Versailles to give away!  Just enter below!

Title: The Sisters of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Format: Paperback
Shipping to: Canada and USA only
Duration of Giveaway: September 16 to September 30, 2015
Random Drawing - winner will be contacted via email. I will forward your name and address on to the publisher.

* one entry per person *

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wow, these sisters ... their lives were so unbelievable! I do not envy them at all.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Me neither, Heather. Not my ideal life even with the palace. ;)

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Congratulations to Nadine for winning a copy of The Sisters of Versailles!!

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